Sometimes I'm the Worst Mommy Ever

Marj Hatzell
2

Boy sticking out tongue
Guess this is a bad day
Some days with special needs kids are really, really good. And some days are downright rotten. The good news is that one good day recovers us from a handful of bad days. Most of the time.

I'm not going to sugar-coat it for you. There are days that are downright TERRIBLE. If I had a dime for every time I have heard, "I don't know how you do it!" I'd be a filthy rich woman living on my own private island. Well, I hate the beach so I'll go with buying a mountain instead. But you get the idea. Other people look at us and think, Wow. Thank goodness for the life we've got! It could be worse! WE COULD BE THEM.

Wanna know what's funny? I do the same thing.

I look at people with more dire circumstances and think, Well. It could be much worse! and then continue scrubbing poo out of my carpet. A lot. Of poo. (TIP: Don't ever sit on the floor if you come over. Just sayin'.) But it could be worse! My younger kid can go to the bathroom. He is almost potty trained. He can feed himself. He can walk. He loves and is loved. My older son reads grade levels above his age. He is wicked-smaht and sensitive and very affectionate. We've got it good. For every bad day we go through? One hug cures it. It wipes the slate clean. It makes me forget about the poo on the carpet. That is, until I smell it.

Today? A not so good day. The older boy was laying a guilt trip on me. HARD. Sailing paper airplanes over my head with little messages scrawled on them in his preschool-level chicken scratch (he's dyslexic and also has dysgraphia and I was on the computer. Big meany!). The messages said, "I'm sad. Pay attention to me. I need you." Maybe not in those words, but that's what they meant. And because we were having an over-scheduled-to-the-max day I couldn't. I wanted to. And I felt terrible about it. And it's still ripping my heart out.

Those are the days when I wonder if I'm giving the older one, the very verbal, high-functioning one, exactly what he needs. His younger brother is so involved, so severely autistic, that I know I am not dividing my time fairly. It's not fair. It sucks big, hairy rocks. There's no nice way to put it. I HATE IT. I can't change it, though. Might as well learn to live with it, right?

Some days I'm the "Best Mommy in the World" and I know I'm giving him what he needs, or at least I make him feel that way. Some days I'm the "Worst Mommy EVER" and I think you know that means I sucked at Mom 101 that day. But all we can expect from ourselves is the best we are capable of. We can't snap our fingers and make magic happen (raise your hands: How many of you wish you could do the Mary Poppins Thing? ME! ME!). We can, however, learn from it and try to make it better tomorrow. There's always tomorrow (10 points if you know that movie).

What's the point of all of this rambling? For starters, I've learned a few things about parenting kids with disabilities. The first is that we're only human. We can only do our best, nothing more. Also? We are much too hard on ourselves. We tend to hold ourselves to a higher standard and almost expect ourselves to perform and function just as well (IF NOT BETTER) than typical parents. It's not fair! We need to lighten up and expect "good enough" sometimes. We're allowed to cry. We're allowed to have temper tantrums sometimes (why not? OUR KIDS SURE DO). Our houses don't need to look like the Taj Mahal. We can spend a day in our pajamas and ignore the phone. We don't have to fix gourmet dinners. We don't HAVE to remember everything, all the time. It's okay to make mistakes! HONEST! And we shouldn't have to beat ourselves up over it. We're only human after all. Not droids (well, speak for yourself, I'm a robot).

And our kids wouldn't have it any other way.

How does everyone deal with the good days and the bad days?


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